Who has been the most successful Arsenal manager ever?

By Tony Attwood

Following the Cup Final I’ve updated the comparative table of Arsenal managers.  Once again we find that Arsene Wenger’s win percentage has increased, and of course the honours table is up by one.

I thought it might be interesting to do one other column showing the number of games per honour.

Our most successful managers measured by this table, but excluding Joe Shaw who managed only half a season we have

1: George Graham – 76 games per trophy

2: George Allison – 93 games per trophy

3: Tom Whittaker – 107 games per trophy

4: Arsene Wenger – 126 games per trophy

5: Herbert Chapman – 136 games per trophy

6: Bertie Mee – 179 games per trophy

7: Terry Neil – 416 games per trophy

Arsène Wenger remains of course the manager with the most honours, and the most games and the highest win percentage of matches – and it is amazing to think that this win percentage is increasing year by year.

Also of course while every other manager on the list below has dealt with a fairly static world of football, Arsène Wenger has uniquely had to deal with the massive influx of money for other clubs, and the decline in available money for Arsenal in the building of the stadium.  (The last manager who managed and was affected by a stadium building process was Leslie Knighton who managed after the building of Highbury.).

Here’s the table.


Name Played Win% Games per honour Honours
Arsène Wenger 1010 57.23% 126 3 League 5 FA Cup
Bertie Mee 539 44.71% 179 1 League 1 FA Cup 1 Fairs C.
George Graham 460 48.91% 76 2 League 1 FA Cup 2 Lg Cup 1 CWCup
Tom Whittaker 429 47.09% 107 2 League 1 FA Cup
Terry Neill 416 44.95% 416 1 FA Cup
Herbert Chapman 403 49.88% 136 2 League 1 FA Cup
George Allison 279 46.24% 93 2 League 1 FA Cup

Each manager of course has his own issues to contend with and his own benefits.  Arsène Wenger’s achievement is remarkable for being over almost twice as many games as his nearest rival on the list.  Bertie Mee’s achievements all came within a short spell – his figures would have been much higher if he had left a few seasons earlier.  

George Graham too saw his team fall away at the end, but achieved a lot of success quickly, while Tom Whittaker must be given the most fulsome credit, as he took a team that had to be put back together after the war, and which in its previous season under Allison had been extremely poor.

Terry Neill is remembered for his near misses – but the fact is he only got one trophy.  George Allison on the other hand inherited Chapman’s team, and his staff of Joe Shaw and Tom Whittaker.  But he still had to deliver, which he did.


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One Reply to “Who has been the most successful Arsenal manager ever?”

  1. In this episode, the “most fulsome credit” is bestowed on Tom Whitaker for his rebuild of Arsenal FC after WW2. Immediate action was required after a poor first season in peacetime and Whitaker had the masterly plan of recruiting players steeped in quality and experience, whose football careers had been disrupted, at their peak, by 5 years of War.
    Men like Joe Mercer, Ronnie Rooke, Alex Forbes and Archie Macauley joined Arsenal and the effect was immediate. Triumph in the 1947/8 Div 1 Championship.
    And to a certain extent today, Arsene Wenger is not averse to signing men of experience from time to time, if he feels that their contribution to the team would be useful.

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